The world according to writers

“You create characters you hope your audience will love and then visit upon them what you hope will never happen to you.” That’s how John Irving describes his writing process in a thoughtful interview with the BBC World Book Club, part of a series that brings the voices of writers to million of fans around the world.

Fortunately for us, what we’d like to have happen is not the worst scenario but the best—to bend the ear of famous writers, or at least listen to the story of how and why they create their work. BBC World Book Club gives us that opportunity every month.

The interviews are conducted before a live audience, with the authors fielding questions from a variety of sources, including text messages. In this installment, Irving discusses a book that launched him into the popular culture in America, the ironically dark coming of age novel The World According to Garp.

Other guests on the program have included Salman Rushdie (Midnight’s Children), Isabelle Allende (A House of Spirits), Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), Doris Lessing (The Grass is Singing), Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient) and Ian McEwan (Atonement). The current interview features Alaa Al Aswaany, author of The Yacoubian Building, the Arab-world’s No. 1 bestseller for five years running after it was published in 2002.

–Jeff Widmer